After the excitement of the Achuapa music festival, the giddiness was replaced by that of arrival at El Portillo. The group received a wonderful welcome in true Nica style before we were allocated to our families and we all went off to spend our first evening with our new madres, padres, hermanas and hermanos.
The next day the head of the community, Don Brigido, talked us through the eco-latrine project along with one of the maestro de obras. We learned how traditional ‘long drop’ toilets can flood and cause water contamination, hence the need for the new latrines which are much more sanitary, can provide fertiliser for the community’s crops and prevents diseases caused by dirty water supply. We also spoke to members of the community already using them who say they are a god-send. There was no rest for the wicked as we commenced work that very afternoon.
Since then we’ve been working very hard every day making concrete bases, brick laying, making roofs and generally building ‘super-loos’. We’ve also been interacting with the community, teaching english and health & hygiene to local children, making cuajada cheese and milking cows.
On Monday we were very lucky to receive a visit from Stacey Adams, Chief Executive of Raleigh, and Fiona Woolf, the future Lord Mayor of London. The X-Men and people of El Portillo entertained our visitors with traditional Nicaraguan songs and the story of the eco-latrine followed by fireworks and piñatas. We have two more days of work before all our efforts will culminate in a massive launch party on Saturday night with the entire community. Let’s just hope the rain stays off!